Suggested Audio Candy:
The Flowerpot Men Beat City
Okay Grueheads, we’re off and running. We’ve tipped our Quills to some amazing comedic talent already and what better way to continue than to delve into the mind of Martin Scorcese. Typically known for his gangster epics and tense thrillers, his standout for Keeper is actually a delicious little black comedy called After Hours. If you haven’t had the exclusive pleasure of chaperoning Griffin Dunne through the worst night in his life then I implore you…seek this shit out.
I believe the perfect film does exist and that it is a feature that could not have been any better for its time and place in history. After Hours is one such delight. The cast is simply peerless; Rosanna Arquette, Linda Fiorentino, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Teri Garr...fuck! Even Cheech and Chong make a cameo. A progressively more nightmarish nightmare with humor as blackened as any from its epoch, this just does everything right in my book. Forget Date Night and other suchlike mild distractions; this is where it is most assuredly at!
Casey Siezmasko had a rare leading role in Three O’Clock High, playing Jerry. This young nobody unwittingly sacrifices himself to the feared school bully, played by Richard Tyson. The film charts the exploits of a single school day as he endeavors to wriggle free from his date with forecast annihilation. Teeth in a basket loom large and, for any of us who endured the day of torment as we awaited our fate, it will resonate strongly. Not convinced? Okay, Michael Rooker is in it. Nuff said? Nuff said.
The whole free world knows the name Ferris Bueller. With good reason, his day off provided John Hughes with yet another solid gold classic. I love it as much as the next man, be assured. However, as much as Matthew Broderick dazzles as ‘gifted’ entrepreneur Ferris, for me it was all about Cameron Fry. Alan Ruck has drifted in and out over the years but, in Cam, found the perfect foil to his smug leader. Meanwhile, Mia Sara played his girlfriend and there aren’t many easier sights on the eye.
There were plenty of overlooked beauties, including How I Got Into College and The Hunchback Hairball of LA aka Big Man on Campus providing more than enough laughs between them. Jeff Daniels’ Checking Out also shines out like a beacon as it tells the story of a hypochondriac convinced the pearly gates are beckoning. Daniels also got leading man duties for the terrific Something Wild, playing alongside Melanie Griffith on top of her game and Ray Liotta in the role which surely landed him Goodfellas.
The Police Academy series continued to stretch its joke across a whole decade and lost its way entirely. Steve Guttenburg fared best, although poor Mahoney drifted away from our screens after a strong start. Likewise, numerous young starlets faltered as they struggled to reinvent themselves in the aftermath of that glorious 80s scene. Anthony Michael Hall, Judd Nelson, Andrew McCarthy, Diane Franklin, Molly Ringwald, even Patrick Dempsey for the best part of twenty years…all left gaping holes in our hearts but lasting memories in our minds.
In Corey world, Haim struggled more than Feldman, despite being a pin-up for teens globally. His greatest moment outside of License To Drive and The Lost Boys, came in the form of Lucas, a delicate lil’ flower only desiring to be loved. Charlie Sheen back then had a face you didn’t wish to punch and gave a measured performance as the jock he ultimately wins around. Gentle, thoughtful and eminently charming, Lucas touched all of our hearts.
Eddie Murphy, like Steve Martin, found his niche brilliantly in the eighties before going off the boil and what is not to like about Beverly Hills Cop right? Billy Rosewood and old Taggart were dragged from pillar to strip club as they fell for Axel’s undeniable charisma and Eddie was crowned worldwide superstar off the back of it. He went on to give us numerous highlights and bounced off grizzly Nick Nolte in 48hrs. Nolte in turn gave us the heartwarming The Three Fugitives, alongside rubber-faced Martin Short.
John Ritter in Blade Edwards’ uproarious Skin Deep and Lea Thompson in Casual Sex? both flew the flag for their respective sexes, Martin Short and Annette O’Toole traded verbal volleys in third date disaster movie Cross My Heart and the glorious Michael Keaton proved his comic timing with Ron Howard’s Night Shift in 1982. Robert Townsend too, showed early signs of his vast potential with Hollywood Shuffle. Like Arsenio Hall, he never really grasped the spotlight afterwards.
An American Werewolf in London is regularly lauded as John Landis‘ finest hour but I’m in disagreement. Sure, it’s a belting film but Into the Night provided a delectable partnership in insomniac Jeff Goldblum and sassy Michelle Pfeiffer. Truly a film worth hunting down, it featured Landis himself in a bumbling cameo as one of a clueless troupe of Middle Eastern criminals. Even the legendary David Cronenberg and David Bowie put in rare turns.
Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis and Rob Reiner were there or thereabouts and each had fingers in a melange of pies. Amy Heckerling gave us the soundtrack to our youth with Fast Times at Ridgemont High which chronicled the growing pains of one Cameron Crowe who went on to excel habitually in the nineties. The Hotel New Hampshire was a real one-off and featured a great ensemble cast which included the mesmerizing Nastassja Kinski as a cycling bear and another young Seth Green as ‘Egg’.
Blaxploitation got parodied with Keenan Ivory Wayans side-splitting I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, with virtually every black actor on the block weighing in. As spoofs go, and they regularly miss the target more than they hit, this had a far greater ratio towards the latter. The sight of superfly guy Antonio Fargas hobbling down the sidewalk in his full-pimp attire as he exits his decade long incarceration no longer ‘Pimp of the Year’ while his theme band struggle to keep up causes me hyperventilation. By the time one of his fish-tank platforms has exploded on him and he gives it a gentle shake off I am reduced to convulsing jelly.
Talking of spoofs, Jim Abrahams and the Zuckers were far and away the most consistent filmmakers and, of course, Airplane is perfection yadda yadda yadda. Keeper, loving the underdog, would prefer to point y’all in the direction of Top Secret. Sure it was less regular with its moments of sheer genius but…the Underwater Bar Brawl…precocious! I could feel Peter Cushing eyeballing me for weeks after viewing.
Plenty more to wax about, but I’m waxed off now. Y’all owe it to yourselves to revisit some of the movies on this rundown. The final part of this sequence will gather the 50 darlings of my adolescence and a special mention will go to my all-time favorite comedy. It was actually made in 1991 but, as far as I’m concerned, fits in snugly. For now that is all I shall digress.
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013